Cain Marko wrote:^thanks for the confirmation Brar.. how do the drdo aad/pad compare vs thaad? Iirc drdos next challenge was longer ranged 5k class bm...
Comparisons needn't matter. BMD systems are designed around user requirements and specific threats. US has no ballistic missile threats coming from Canada or Mexico. It designs its theater systems for expeditionary use and as such breaks capability down into systems that all three services bring to the fight (USAF controls all the space and EW portion). So THAAD slots in between the very long range BMD capability that AEGIS provides from the sea (protecting land targets) and the short range coverage, against short and medium ranged missiles, that the PATRIOT provides.
THAAD has residual capability against ICBM (radar can see at distance, C2 can handle the tracks etc) and as an ASAT system as well (this was confirmed during Burnt Frost when senior US officials mentioned publicly that they could have also done it with THAAD).
THAAD was always meant to cover the high SRBM to IRBM threat but its operational capability demonstrations were designed to pace
a threat which was MRBM capability at the time, but has grown to advanced IRBM (with decoys) capability since then. When they deployed to the Pacific this was important (Chinese MRBM's and IRBM's are more capable than Iran's). To keep pace, THAAD was tested against advanced MRBM targets, with and without decoys, and the envelope expanded progressively to validate the IRBM capability. As threats mature further I'm sure they'll open up additional IRBM capability. The system has it..its only a matter of developing those target missiles and demonstrating that credibly so you have confidence when it is deployed against that threat. Ballistic Missile capability is only as good as the cadence with which you test and demonstrate it and how much you invest in your threat systems (and how representative they are to your actual threats). THAAD has had 17 straight intercepts in testing and operational unit demonstrations IIRC. Majority of those targets have represented threats the US expected to encounter at the time (hence early target capability was heavily MRBM focused). In the next 3-5 years, expect more longer range and higher capability (CM's) targets being tested to fully demo the capability against the IRBM threat. This will then blend into the ICBM territory with the increment 2 interceptor which is a short term development.
Similarly, the US expects its air-bases and troop concentrations to come under saturated attacks on a consistent basis and as such the THAAD organic battery was desired to be 72 loaded missiles in its 9 launchers. This would provide a ripple fired Exo and Endo intercept strategy (dubbed look-shoot-look-shoot (one exo shot followed by one terminal endo shot at the same target)) for every long ranged weapon and you could continue to stay in the fight for longer without having to constantly resupply and have non operational launchers. Iran launched 15 ballistic missiles (IIRC) at 2 air-bases that they KNEW had no BMD capability. What would that calculation have looked like if they new this was defended? Current and future raid-scenarios have to be factored in when developing systems. And this will be user specific. Now they want to tip over into the ICBM envelope (at least the lower end ICBM ranged weapons) and provide a second layer to US homeland defense BMD capability. This follows the Gallium Nitride upgrade to the radar which increases range, sensitivity and the discrimination capability which was already best in class (along with SBX) given the band they chose to operate in (discrimination trumps raw range on the TPY-2).
US BMD program, at the theater level, is tiered. THAAD is the upper tier which handles threats between 50 km (altitude) and 150 km (altitude). The upper end of this limit will likely more than double with the increment 2 interceptor. The PATRIOT, the lower tier system, handles threats below 50 km altitude though next year, the THAAD organic battery will be capable of adding 2 x PAC-3 MSE launchers (24 total missiles) which would give it the ability to also do lower tier intercepts organically (it can do it now by providing targting for a PAC-3 MSE launched by a dedicated PATRIOT battery). This way, these sensors (TPY-2 operating in FB or Terminal modes handling upper tier threats, PATRIOT radar (and LTAMDS in the future) and TPS-59 handling lower tier threats) and shooters cover portions of the air and space allowing more optimal solutions given specific threat types with some envelope overlap which is now getting wider (THAAD is acquiring lower tier capability with MSE missile and launchers, while PATRIOT is expected to acquire upper tier capability via its next generation interceptor).
No two BMD needs are similarly architectured. Threats are different and so are needs and doctrine. This applies to the broader Air-Defense systems as well. Israel for example slices its systems differently between the Arrow and the David's Sling+PATRIOT. Even though the US MDA plays an advisory and SE role in most of their BMD programs. Their threats are different and at different ranges with different capabilities. As are raid sizes you envision. At this point, nearly 100% of US PATRIOT and THAAD development is being dictated by ballistic missile raid threats from China and Iran. This is reflected in their magazine sizes.
A normal PAC-3 or MSE load out is anywhere between 12 to 16 missiles per launcher. This when coupled with THAAD provides triple digit interceptors protecting troop concentrations and theater level deployments. Is that enough or is it an overkill? That is doctrine dependent. You can't win a war with missile defense or even defend against all missiles. Missile Defense then is a capability that you buy in order to deter and hold for long enough to destroy the enemies capability in other ways (degrade its capability to target you). Given the ability of the USAF and USN to create and maintain air-superiority, it is logical for the US threats to pepper them with ballistic missiles. It is cheaper than to try to take them on with air power. So BMD systems (either land or sea based) have evolved to counter that and these interceptor concentrations have to keep people alive long enough for the USAF/USN to degrade missile delivery and targeting capability utilizing their airpower.